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Minkah Fitzpatrick tops the Steelers defensive Week 12 Pro Football Focus grades

In the grades provided by PFF, Fitzpatrick had his highest score in more than a year.

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Pittsburgh Steelers were dominated by the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday. Falling by a score of 41-10 with the Steelers only touchdown coming late in the game, this one was out of reach not long after it started. Between the defense not being able to stop drives and the offense not being able to sustain them, it was truly a team loss with plenty of blame to go around.

But how did the individual players grade out?

For this exercise, we will be looking at the player grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for their Week 12 performance. These scores are just from Sunday’s game and not for the entire season. Before going any further, I must give the typical disclaimer that PFF grades are subjective. While some people rely on them heavily, others are quite skeptical of the process in which they are determined. It is completely up to each person as to how much stock they put into PFF’s grades. For me, I often look at the grades to see if my own “eye test” lines up with what others viewed as how a player performed. If nothing more, the grades create a discussion about how accurate, or inaccurate, they are each week.

Instead of looking at the entire team at once, we break up the scores into offense and defense. Next up is the defense. Included will be all the players who played at least one snap and the total snap counts for each player will be included. For reference sake, the Steelers played 68 snaps on defense in Week 12.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 89.9 (65 snap)
OLB Derrek Tuszka: 83.9 (15 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 76.8 (27 snaps)
S Tre Norwood: 75.8 (8 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 75.3 (45 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

ILB Robert Spillane: 46.1 (8 snaps)
CB James Pierre: 41.8 (58 snaps)
DT Daniel Arhibong: 32.3 (5 snaps)
ILB Joe Schobert: 31.0 (66 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 27.4 (57 snaps)


Defensive Front Seven

OLB Derrek Tuszka: 83.9 (15 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 76.8 (27 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 75.3 (45 snaps)
DT Cam Heyward: 68.4 (54 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 65.2 (48 snaps)
OLB Taco Charlton: 64.3 (18 snaps)
DT Henry Mondeaux: 64.0 (19 snaps)
OLB T.J. Watt: 56.1 (55 snaps)
DT Daniel Arhibong: 32.3 (5 snaps)

Seeing Derrek Tuszka the top of the list for this position group was quite a surprise, followed with rookie Isaiahh Loudermilk next in line coming back to the lineup. It was Tuszka‘s run defense score of 83.2 which had him at the top of the list. According to PFF, Cam Heyward once again had more of an average performance and T.J. Watt found himself almost at the very bottom of the list. For Watt, it was his worst score since Week 4 when the Steelers played the Green Bay Packers and he was, once again, returning to the lineup from injury.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Robert Spillane: 46.1 (8 snaps)
ILB Joe Schobert: 31.0 (66 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 27.4 (57 snaps)

These players kept the same order again, but this time they all landed in the bottom five. As bad as Devin Bush scored last week he scored even lower against the Bengals. While this position group is constantly getting low scores, one does have to ask if the guys in front of them are allowing the blockers to get to them too easily, or if they simply aren’t getting the job done. Bush continues to have a decent tackling score (77.7) but is lacking in all the other categories, particularly run defense (27.6).

Defensive Backs

S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 89.9 (65 snap)
S Tre Norwood: 75.8 (8 snaps)
S Terrell Edmunds: 71.7 (68 snaps)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon: 69.2 (15 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 60.4 (68 snaps)
CB Arthur Maulet: 53.9 (49 snaps)
CB James Pierre: 41.8 (58 snaps)

It was great to see Minkah Fitzpatrick with the highest score on the entire team. It was his highest score since the Steelers first matchup with the Cleveland Browns in 2020. With the return of Fitzpatrick, Tre Norwood was able to return to his sub package roll and therefore scored much better than the previous week. James Pierre struggled throughout the game as indicated by his overall score as well as having scores in the 40s for all three categories of run defense (49.4), tackling (43.9) and coverage (47.7) .


So, what do you think of the above grades? Do they pass the eye test? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ defensive grades in the comments below.